Hello from Slovenia!
I had a mad dash filled Sunday, yes, the Sunday I did Covered Bridges Half. Right after we ran the half, we showered and ate briefly before doing the 6+ hour long drive back to Brooklyn. We grabbed some burritos for dinner and I quickly finished doing some last minute packing. I was home at most for a couple of hours (it may have even been less) and then I went to the airport to meet my parents and aunt who had flown in from the West Coast. We were all going to Slovenia together.
Some months ago my mother asked me to give her two weeks of my summer to take them on a trip. Of course, I couldn’t say no. Independently we both decided that we wanted to see Slovenia and Croatia. I am my mother’s twin; we eerily alike.
We landed in Ljubljana (pronounced loo-blana) Monday evening. I hauled all of us to the lovely cozy AirBnB apartment that I rented for the 4-day stay in the city. After eating a quick dinner, we all crashed.
The last couple of days have been fun with all the sightseeing that we’re doing, but I wanted to write a few thoughts and observations that I had about the active life of Slovenians in Ljubljana.
Ljubljana is a small city, very walkable. Like many European cities, the city center is not driveable. Your choices of transport are walking or biking. There’s a lovely park, Tivoli City Park, the city’s largest, just west of the city center. I did two runs there to shake out my legs. The runs themselves weren’t all that great (fatigue? jet lag? who knows?), but I loved all the foot trails that they have. The main part of the park is pretty manicured with a giant lily pond, rose gardens, and such, but the behind the main part of the park, are forests. I love the peace and serenity of running on those trails.
Although I run early, I see plenty of other runners, dog walkers, cyclists, or people strolling about. Not so many that it feels crowded, quite the contrary, I feel removed from the city, but just enough people that I don’t worry about hurting myself and not being able to get help or feeling that the place is too isolated. In the evening, there are even more people (and more runners – I see running groups!).
In the city, there are many cyclists. Cycling is a popular mode of transportation. Ljubljana has several miles of bike lanes, actual bike lanes solely for bicycles. It’s common to see chicly-dressed women in high heels cycling to work. And of course, people walk everywhere because the city is so small. They also climb a lot of stairs. Many people live in small walk-ups. Our apartment is on the 4th floor, so I march up and down those stairs quite a bit.
As I ran in Tivoli, I thought how pleasant it was to run here in Ljubljana. I felt very safe. Since there were other runners, I didn’t feel like a freak of nature, the way I did in Russia. The park is a beautiful place to run and it makes me want to run. All of these factors matter when it comes to having an active lifestyle.
In Russia, I didn’t feel unsafe, but the dour gray streets didn’t inspire great running and people stared at me as if I had two heads because very few people ran in Russia. And if they did, they were probably tourists. In Tanzania and Kenya, it was much too unsafe to simply go outside and run. There were no appropriate places to run right outside where we were staying. In Tanzania, we didn’t think about going out to run at all and in Kenya, we had to find a running group who could take us to a safe place.
I know people just say running is so easy to do because all you need is a pair of shoes and then you go out and run, but this isn’t true. To go out and run is a privilege that’s not necessarily accessible to everyone.
Appreciate what you have and realize that running is a privilege.
That’s true that people always say it’s so easy to just go run wherever you are. I don’t agree with that either. In a new place you don’t always know where it’s safe or where it’s decent running. Happy travelling!
So true about safe places to run being a privilege. Lots of people don’t have that.
Hope you enjoy your travels! Just out of curiosity – why Slovenia and Croatia? It’s interesting to me that both you and your mom wanted to go there, so I was wondering.
A friend of mine went to Slovenia almost 10 years ago and sent me photos of caves because he knew how much I love caving. My mom is a travel nut and always looks to see where Korean tour bus companies are going. There’s been a big interest by the Korean community to go to less well-known places and there was a popular TV program that featured Croatia. As for me, several friends have visited Croatia and I lustfully stared at photos of Plitvice National Park that’s famous for their waterfalls. Chasing after waterfalls (and caves).
That sounds like as good of a reason as any! 🙂 Glad you’re able to go out there and enjoy the experience.
It is weird thinking about local running habits. I have only been abroad once since I started running and that was for a half marathon in Marrakech. The morning before I did 5k on my own and felt so odd and out of place just not knowing where to run or even if it was a thing people did in Morocco.
Yeah, people don’t realize how intimidating it can be to run where no one runs. In Kenya, my running outfit of a tank top and shorts was considered scandalous by anyone who wasn’t a runner.
When running around home I am the kind of knob who high 5’s other runners. I was so intimidated in Morrocco that even when I saw one I could barely make eye contact. Everyone was really lovely at the race though and very friendly after walking back to the hotel with the medal.